Hop Over To Hanoi With Kids: Explore Vietnam’s Capital | Short GetawayShort Getaway
When in Vietnam, make sure to visit one of the oldest capitals in the world: Hanoi. Full of historical buildings, charming walkways and lovely restaurants. Fun for a romantic escape with your loved one, but it’s just as great to visit Hanoi with your kids!
Vietnam has much to offer to visiting travelers and tourists. The bustling Mekong area has its orchards, villages, rice paddies and floating markets. Mui Ne is the place to be for kite surfing, beach life and exploring the red sand dunes. But the historic center of Hanoi is something else. Seemingly more quiet and traditional than its more modern brother Saigon, Hanoi is packed with history. Combined with great sight seeing and the yummiest street food ever, it’s a family friendly hotspot you shouldn’t miss!
What to do in Hanoi with kids
Introduce the kids to a real Vietnamese Banh Mhi (baguette) in the Old Quarter, where most French colonial architecture is located. Slightly chaotic but charming, this commercial part of town is filled with beautiful buildings and street vendors at every corner. Go for a coffee at the world famous Metropole Hotel on 15 Pho Ngo Quyen Street. The historic luxury hotel was opened in 1901 in the French colonial style and has had many famous visitors like Charlie Chaplin, Jane Fonda and numerous European Kings and American Presidents.
Surrounded by a fair amount of motor bikes, Hoan Kiem Lake is located in the center of town. Its red Huc bridge leads to Ngoc Sun temple in the middle of the lake. This is the perfect spot for that family photo or insta post!
The best Hanoi highlights
At Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, you can pay your respects to the former president. The Mausoleum is located on Ba Dinh square, where Ho Chi Minh, or Uncle Ho as the locals call him, read the Vietnamese declaration of independence for the first time in 1945.
If your kid is into planes and tanks and you’re in for some history yourself, drop by the Vietnam Military History Museum, where there’s a real jet fighter on display.
Also historic, but not really suitable for the young ones, is Hao Lo Prison. Even so, the ‘Hanoi Hilton’, as the prisoners would call it, comes recommended. The Vietnamese war marks a big part of the history of this beautiful country and although gruesome, you’ll understand the country better after visiting this place.
On a lighter note, when you’re in Hanoi with your kids, you can’t leave without seeing a water puppet show. This tradition originates from the time that the rice fields got deeply flooded. The villagers used to perform while standing in the paddies, holding their puppets up for the audience to see. The kids will love the performances based on local legends. Thang Long water puppet theater is one of the oldest puppet theaters and has daily shows.
Tours in Hanoi
When thinking of Vietnam, we think of motorbikes. And this is a super way to explore Hanoi with the kids. You’ll be able to see a larger area and drive through small hems (alleys), getting a good feeling of what the city is about. Try Hanoi Vespa Tours, which has good drivers who speak English and know their way around.
Rather go cycling? Bike Tours Hanoi has several routes in and around Hanoi. You can ask for child seats. If you’re vastly becoming a fan of the Vietnamese cuisine; Highway4 organizes great cooking classes.
Where to eat in Hanoi
Hanoi is full of shops, places to relax with a coffee and small restaurants. Grab a ca phe sua da at Gau Coffee Roaster, one of the best coffee bars in town. At Giang cafe, they’re famous for their egg coffee, a Vietnamese specialty that’s hard to find.
For tasty authentic Vietnamese food that’s kid friendly as well, go to Highway4. Or visit Bun Cha Huong Lien, the small restaurant where President Barack Obama had his noodles. It’s probably packed and you won’t be able to sit on the same (plastic) chair since it was put on display, but hey, it only costs 4 bucks and it’s still fun. Yummy non-Vietnamese dinner can be found at the Japanese-Italian restaurants of Pizza 4P’s.
How to get to Hanoi
It’s about a 35 minute drive from Hanoi airport to the old town. If you’re travelling in Vietnam, consider taking the train to Hanoi. It’s a reliable way to travel to Hanoi with the kids, easy to arrange and a great experience. You will remember those views! While in Hanoi, you’re ever so close to the lovely village of Hoi An as well as the gorgeous Halong Bay. If you have time, make sure to combine your stay with these Vietnamese highlights. Hanoi is also the place from where most people travel to Sa Pa, the lush green hills of Vietnam.
Where to book your Hanoi family stay
There’s no shortage of hotels in Hanoi. Check hotels in the French Quarter if you would like to be based centrally. Anything near Hoan Kiem Lake and the Hanoi Opera House is a prime location. We like the La Siesta Diamond Hotel, which is good value for money and perfectly located. If your pack is counting on some pool time in the afternoons, you might be better of with the larger hotel chains like the kid friendly Hilton Hanoi Opera. A different price range, but a spectacular outdoor pool to cool off. And if you really want to strike out on this Hanoi trip with the kids, book at the Metropole Hotel.
When to go to Hanoi
As with all Vietnamese destinations, plan your trip well, because the weather conditions differ per month. September to November and March to May are the best periods to visit Hanoi. The summer months (June to August) can be quite hot and wet, whereas December to February can be so chilly (below 10 degrees) that even a bowl of Pho won’t keep you warm. Brrr!